Honda XR250L vs Suzuki DR-Z250 — Motorbikes Reviews, News & Advice — b…

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Suzuki DR 250

Honda XR250L vs Suzuki (August 2002)

There’s too grandiose about an entry-level but they are certainly more fun the sum of the parts would suggest

would suggest that not the most imaginative person on — my underwhelming creative efforts at school attest to — but that mind-set was put to the ultimate test during a dirtbike riding through the of trails around Anglesea

Well, a full day’s riding is slight rhetoric, as the small part of it was spent abandoned under a flimsy in three-degree conditions — a liberal dose of sleet down at a 45-degree angle waiting for my colleague Simon Swan to return with tidings of emancipation.

A hiccup one of the bikes had forced me to seek under the tree, and that’s the imagination kicked into — given added by the fact that the amount of on hand added up to pissy Mars bar and there wasn’t a to be heard.

You know, thoughts crazed strangers passing by and to check my prostate, grizzly bears, deranged backpacker the likely outcome of the next Communist Party Congress, and how my and children would manage me, let alone be able to afford the expenses.

Well, after eight of mental anguish Simon did with enough reinforcements to get us to the Volvo at base camp which as it turns out was just 700 down the road. Alone yes. Abandoned — not quite.


And the for my eight minutes of self-flagellation a flat battery on one of the testbikes, the XR250L. To be fair, the conditions abysmal, and when I parted with the XR in some mud, the welcomed aboard some of the That was fine, but when we it again, the starter button on, and drained the battery almost

Still fine, except it was nigh on impossible to push-start the XR on the slush — we hadn’t up on the bike’s kickstarter option. the Swan mercy dash.

that point, the $7990 — with soft-terrain MT 32 knobbies to replace the standard hoops — had proved to be a ally in the network of light trails we had traversed, which represented the outer limit of its brief.

The second bike on was Suzuki’s $7990 DR-Z250, is now into its second year of living after five of frolicking with just a DR In DR-Z guise, the bike now has suspension, a thicker and raised (920mm), a plastic 10.5lt tank, revised ergonomics and new

Similarly, the XR250L is a second-year for Honda, and follows on from a set with the XR650L, which was as a bespoke release for those who electric-start on their XR — and had received it. However, the 650 was powered by the Dominator (NX650) engine, fell well short of the set by the ‘real’ thing.

Those for a fresh interpretation on the L concept the quarter-litre bike may be in for a surprise, as the is powered by the old XL powerplant, which was sold in Australia in 1999 a five-year tenure. But at least it look and sound like a XR250 — save for header pipes on the L.

And to the thousands of folk who have bought the in the past couple of years, my about the ‘old’ engine probably be rejected out of hand. because hybrids of this are common right across the in the congested archipelago, and sell in quantities — they are buxom than a scooter, but are reasonably priced.


Producing a claimed 28ps at and 2.6kg-m of torque, the XR250L is not a for the horsepower starved, and was definitely by the DR-Z. The latter is powered by a vintage air-cooled DOHC fed by a 28mm CV-type carburettor.

Strong, predictable power is the DR-Z’s strong suit, was particularly evident on the tighter where some nasty low-speed switchbacks required sublime throttle work to the rage.

That’s not to say the DR-Z is years ahead, with the carb providing a perfect for an ample midrange at the expense of a top-end. However, a ballsy is not what the DR-Z or XR250L is all — that’s a function suited to the latest liquid-cooled such as the Yamaha WR250F, are derivatives of purpose-built racers

That frail top-end was confirmed when we took in tarmac between the bush although with a few extra on the respective rear sprockets more low down clout in the the conditions weren’t conducive for shootouts.

Still, for the more XR250L, a top speed of around is within reason — standard road gearing. For the you could probably add another to the mix.

As mentioned previously, a kickstarter secondary option on the which isn’t a problem on the — it comes standard both modes.


Part of the the champion yellow DR-Z so bullish in the bush can be ‘blamed’ on its handling. It felt appreciably than the XR250L, with progressive suspension damping greater confidence. And it’s a claimed 13kg lighter versus 115).

The DR-Z is taller than the XR (920mm 870mm), with the difference in on the bush bash compounded by the soft-ish preload setting which, if you want to change it, is to access compared to the Suzuki’s.

there’s not a lot in all that height although in the bush a taller helps in pinpointing any hidden lying ahead — but full-proof, as I found out after the knoll of a broken tree and through the mulga.

Just on unexpected collisions, both come standard with plates — steel in the of the DR-Z and a tubular design for the Still on the niceties, the Honda’s is the standard XR250 mudguard-mounted while the Suzuki’s lives the narrow seat. The air filters are a cinch to access on both just a couple of clips and the job is

Sure, the Honda felt a doughy compared to the Suzuki in the but with a short 1405mm there’s still some of signature XR250R sure-fire just bubbling below the And the ‘difference’ between the two was negligible on the — I say it again, that’s the XR250L feels more at

That’s in a practical sense, but the Honda also priced at (exactly the same as the higher-spec there’s a perception that the should be able to hold its own the DR-Z on all types of terra-firma.

To AFL commentator Dennis Cometti’s I believe Honda’s pricing is ambitious — a slot in between the now discontinued SL230 and its current price would be centimetre perfect. Obviously, the will eventually tell me my call is on the mark.

Competitors of the and Honda include the Yamaha ($6199) and Kawasaki KLR250

Both the DR-Z and the XR-L easy-to-read digital instrumentation, includes adjustable trip and stop watches. The Honda has a clock.

Scuffing on the duo proved to be a on the strength of our full off-road especially on the frame rails and the metal fuel tank in the of the Honda.

Frame rails are a remedy for the former, and maybe duct tape would as an ad-hoc fix on the 9.7lt Honda when dirt beckons.


As my introduction alluded to, dirtbikes possess more fun than they probably a right to. That was amply when we were trying to get up a clay embankment late in the day it was only about a 15-metre but it was probably the highlight of the outing.

the assistance of the soft-compound knobbies with the tyre pressures way — we all eventually reached the — although dirt Simon needed a little bit of and prodding from myself and Sam Maclachlan.

Yes, pure — but the DR-Z just it better than the XR250L. On the and road.

Story: Mark

Photos: Captured by Cal

Published. 23 August 2002


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